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Canadian Arctic Ice Shelves Undergo Record Melt October 7, 2011
Satellite Image
Canada has the largest ice shelves in the Arctic, and scientists say this past summer’s melting due to climate change has returned the Canadian Arctic to conditions that date back thousands of years.
Canadian scientists say that two ice shelves that have covered the country’s Arctic region since before European settlers arrived melted significantly this summer with one nearly disappearing entirely.

Luke Copland of the University of Ottawa, and colleagues, observed that the Serson Ice Shelf and the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf’s central area underwent extensive melting as the Arctic in general experienced its second-greatest summer melt on record.

Copland told The Canadian Press that the losses are significant, especially since the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf has always been the biggest, the farthest north and the one scientists thought might have been the most stable.

“Recent (Arctic ice shelf) loss has been very rapid, and goes hand-in-hand with the rapid sea ice decline we have seen in this decade and the increasing warmth and extensive melt in the Arctic regions,” said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado, commenting on the research.

Graphic: NASA